Taos Institute of Studies, Sponsored by The Historic Museums Fall Courses Announced

By: Bill Whaley
21 September, 2018

Fee: $75.00. 10% off for THM members. 10% of fee goes to THM. Essayism III and Culture Class III.

Essayism: III

(Class limited to 10: Five spots open)

On Tuesday evenings, 6-8 pm, Blumenschein Museum, Oct. 2-Nov. 27, writers will study essays, craft and style, while reading their own work. The instructor emphasizes “revision” and “rewriting” as the key to Essayism, “a way of life” based on thinking, reading, and writing or responding to the world. Due to the unique circumstances of the participants and the community, the class tends to focus on the cultural aspects of Taos, a never-ending source of stimulation.

The intimate nature of the class offers opportunities to experienced and inexperienced writers. The instructor will furnish books for participants, including, Lopate’s “The Art of the Personal Essay,” Williams’ “Style, 10 Lessons in Clarity and Grace,” and Thomas and Turner’s, “Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose.”

 Culture Classes are guided by scholarly or experiential books written by Taosenos or specifically about the origins and influences by local avatars on Taos Culture for curious residents.

In Culture Class I, a general overview included Hampton Sides’ “Blood and Thunder,” Lois Rudnick’s “Utopian Vistas,” R.C. Gordon-McCutchan’s “Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake,” and Sylvia Rodriguez’s “Acequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Place.”

In Culture Class II, attendees read and discussed David Stuart’s “Anasazi America,” Frank Waters, “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” and Severin Fowles’ “An Archaeology of the Doings, Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion.”

In Culture Class III this fall, Monday nights, 6 to 8 pm, during 9 sessions (10-1 to 11-26) at the Blumenschein Museum, participants will read and discuss Suzanne Forrest’s “The Preservation of the Village,” George Sanchez’s “The Forgotten People,” Sylvia Rodriguez’s “Land, Water, and Ethnic Identity” from Briggs and Van Ness’s “Land, Water, and Culture,” and Frank Waters’ “To Possess the Land.”

(Many of the books above are out-of-print and the instructor would appreciate hearing from former students if they want to let go one of theirs: contact bwhaley@newmex.com.)

Culture Class III could be sub-titled, “The Hispanic New Deal and the Rise of Los Politicos,” given the federal largesse that ignited the growth of patronage. Contrary to academic analysis and monolithic sociological studies that generalize, the course will discuss, based on experience, the idiosyncratic character not only of the villages and neighborhoods but also of Los Politicos themselves. The flexible and omnipresent notion of “custom,” a principle more honored in the breach than in the observance, once can see how local leaders are more “artists’ than “political scientists.” The experienced and/or local expert will occasionally consult with the class.

(Culture Class III is full at this time.)


Discussion leader Bill Whaley, M.A. Literature and Philosophy, University of Nevada, Reno; current instructor at University of New Mexico, Taos; former publisher and editor of Horse Fly (99-2009); author of Gringo Lessons: Twenty years of Terror in Taos; and editor of “Taos Portraits,” has been doing formal and informal field work in the community for more than 50 years.

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